reports from Telford
"The Bridge of Sighs", as a colleague once named the elevated walkway between the courts at the Guardian Direct National Championships here, was heaving yesterday. A couple of 17-year-old qualifiers defeated seeds to advance to the quarter-finals of the women's singles, and Greg Rusedski, the British No 1, dropped a set against Tom Spinks, No 19 in Britain and No 632 everywhere else.
Spinks, a 20-year-old from Norwich, became the second British player to raise his game against Rusedski since the Canadian-born world No 41 embraced the Union Jack in May. The other was Mark Petchey, who defeated the big-serving left-hander in his opening match at London's Queen's Club in June.
Rusedski, who double-faulted nine times against Spinks as well as hitting 12 aces - hard enough to knock the numbers off the scoreboard - was broken twice in losing the opening set but recovered to reach the quarter-finals, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The day belonged to Amanda Janes, daughter of Christine Janes, who, as Christine Truman, won the French singles championship in 1959 and was runner-up to Angela Mortimer at Wimbledon in 1961, and to Jasmine Choudhury, of Cambridge, who started playing at the age of 10 after trying her luck at the Cliff Richard "Search for a Star" scheme.
Janes, who eliminated the seventh seed, Lucie Ahl, of Exeter, is tall and blonde with a serve-volley style reminiscent of her mother's era, although the power generated by her left-handed serve is the product of evolution and modern racket technology. She said she had watched the film of her mother's Wimbledon final: "I'm sure they played slower.''
None the less, Amanda described her mother as her "mentor and coach", and Christine was up there on the Bridge of Sighs, mentally hitting winners or errors along with her daughter and, as usual, finding the whole experience an ordeal. "It's dreadful, awful," she said. "By choice I wouldn't watch, but Amanda hates it if I don't watch.''
Amanda, of Essex, is the youngest of Christine's four children. She had not wanted any of them to take up the sport because of the disappointments they might face. "But I wouldn't be doing all the fun things I do if I hadn't played tennis, so I wouldn't try to stop her."
In the quarter-finals, Janes plays the third-seeded Karen Cross, of Devon, a finalist in 1993. Choudhury meets Clare Wood, the second seed, after defeating the fifth-seeded Rachel Viollet, daughter of Dennis Viollet, the former Manchester United and England footballer.
Choudhury, who was a set and 2-0 down before coming back to win, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, was recruited to the Lawn Association's national training squad at Queen's Club a month ago, an example of how youngsters can advance from the various grassroots initiatives nowadays.
"I went to a Cliff Richard Search for a Star assessment day, and they picked out a few players they thought had talent to play in a Short tournament," she recounted. "The prize was a free lesson. I won the free lesson, and went on from there.''
n Jim Courier, the former world No 1 from the United States, confirmed he was slowly recapturing his best form by beating the Dutchman Jacco Eltingh to reach the third round of the Paris Open yesterday. Courier used his powerful baseline strokes to win 6-1, 6-7, 6-2.